Herb Lore

Without question, the origins of Witchcraft can be found in the knowledge and lore of the natural world. This is in part why most of those involved in witchcraft have extensive herbal cabinets and caches of crystals and other goodies. In Biblical times it was known that the Angels shared their knowledge of plants and of stones and astrology with the mortals they took for Wife; creating the first Witches.

Throughout history and throughout the world, herbs have played a major role in magick, religion, superstition, and divination, as well as in the development of humankind. Witches and Pagan folk the world over have held a special relationship with herbs since the days of antiquity. Developing various methods to harness the magickal energies contained within flowers, leaves, roots, and bark, they have used them as tools for healing, divination, spell crafting, and connecting with Deity. The ancients believed that all herbs possessed a spirit, or, as in the case of many poisonous or mind-altering plants, a demon. Nearly every culture has recognized the occult vibrations of herbs and attributed certain magical properties to their native plants and trees.

We live in an age of Lost Secrets, what may have been common knowledge to our ancestors has been buried in the mists of time. When mankind had just emerged from caves we were using herbs for more than just seasoning soup. As a matter of fact, herbs were used for healing and Magick long before they were used as seasonings. But the Witches and the Wise Ones all knew the Magickal use of herbs. They used herbs in potions, incense, and amulets to ward off evil, attract prosperity, protect children and women in labor, and heal illnesses.

When herbs were added to foods, they were primarily included for their Magickal or medicinal properties, rather than for their flavor. Much of this lore was forgotten, but fortunately for our generation, not all of it has been lost, and much that had been lost has now been either relearned through experimentation or rediscovered through research of ancient books. This is an exciting time to be alive because the Internet has given people even in remote areas access to books that once would be found only in a few libraries, out of reach of the average Witch.

In contemporary times, as it has been in the past, herbal magick remains an essential part of the Witches’ craft. It can be used to assist an individual in attracting a compatible lover, landing the right job, changing bad luck into good, and even increasing wealth! Empowered by the energies of Goddess Earth and her elementals, herbs have long been used as amulets to protect against evil, dried and burned as magickal incense during rituals, and added to flying ointments and cauldron brews.

Herbs can be used to cure or to curse, as well as to conjure or banish supernatural entities. They can enchant our gardens and our homes, and guide us on the path to transformation and self-improvement. But, most importantly, herbal magick can open the door to spiritual realms and other worlds, and serve to connect a human being with Mother Nature and the Divine. There probably exists no plant or tree that hasn’t at one time, in some part of the world, been used in a spell or potion, or utilized as an amulet. And it is said that all parts of a plant, whether they be roots, buds, flowers, stems, or bark, are magickally significant.

Every Witch aspires to possess a fantastic Garden from which they can pluck the solution for all the woes of friends and family. It’s not necessary, to delve into so much detail when starting out. If you don’t have the luxury of having a garden, herbs that are bought in bulk can be very effective. There are also mail-order sources for some of the hard-to-get herbs. Because grocery store quality can be suspect, and you don’t know how long it has been on the shelf use that option as a last resort.

A bit of a warning, if you are a beginner PLEASE stick to purchasing your ventures from Health-Food and New Age stores. Don’t “get creative” with home remedies always talk to your doctor first, and please do not take chances if you have any allergies to botanicals. That does not eliminate the option of having a Garden, start small and be smart. And as always this is just an introduction to a much larger topic.

Start with a cabinet buy things or collect them as you need them and don’t keep them around any longer than you would culinary spices. Your Magickal Apothecary would be well served by a cool location and amber glass jars with rubber seals; there are some things out there that are just pricey enough that you don’t want to be replacing them every six weeks.

Herbal magick is a type of elemental magick. There is a school of training that says “if it is of the earth, from the earth then it is Earth Magick” I don’t ascribe to this ideology. Each plant is governed by a planet, a gender, and an element, these factors are listed in the Doctrine of Signatures. Each plant used will have a variety of effects, of long term, short term and other variable effects.

You should see most Herbal Magick as a catalyst for greater working, as the foundation for a spell on its own even full rituals. Most workings contain some element of herbal lore. We smudge our ritual spaces with Sage, we burn incense on our altars as offerings, we anoint ourselves and our candles in essential oil, in some cases rolling a candle in powdered herbs, drink them in tea and infuse them in wine.

In herbal magick, quality counts more than quantity so choose, or harvest your herbs carefully and in an appropriate manner. Many people who harvest their own herbs for magickal purposes use a special cutting knife called a boleen. But harvesting your herbs is a topic for another day. Depending upon the complexity of the spell, you can cut your herbs upon the appropriate day of the week, (an herb ruled by the Sun would be cut on Sunday), as with any magick you can take this timing to the extreme if it pleases you.